MINE FIRE: Death toll reaches 76 at Eland in South Africa

SOUTH AFRICA - A total of 76 bodies have been recovered following an underground fire at Harmony Gold's Eland shaft...

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SOUTH AFRICA — A total of 76 bodies have been recovered following an underground fire at Harmony Gold's Eland shaft in Free State. All the dead entered the abandoned mine illegally. Nearly 300 people illegally mining in the area have been charged with trespass.

 

In March Harmony reported that police arrested 114 illegal miners following a search at eight of its mines in Free State.

 

Harmony has been trying to reduce illegal mining at its properties since earlier this year. In 2007, 23 illegal miners were killed in a similar fire at the St. Helena mine. The company has tightened security at its shaft heads and conducts daily underground searches. Still, guards can be bribed and the interconnected underground workings are vast.

 

MiningWeekly.com reported that some mining companies forbid their workers from taking food underground lest they sell it to illegal miners.

 

According to the news releases posted at www.Harmony.co.za, nine Harmony Gold employees have died on the job so far in 2009.

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